My parents are gone before I wake up. Everyone in my house goes to Sunday school except me, and they won't be back until lunch.

They left me a note asking me to fold laundry. While I'm folding, my phone rings. It's Aaron, of course, wanting to know how I'm doing.

"I'm fine," I say, "no jet lag or anything. You know…I don't think we need to actually call each other anymore."

(No, you're right, we don't.) I hear Aaron's thoughts more clearly than his voice through the phone. "But I thought it would be nicer. By the way"…[his thoughts turn sly here]…(have you tried calling Laurel yet?)

"Not yet," I admit. "I've only been up half an hour." Laurel's feather is now lying in the laundry basket.

"Do it, and let me know how it goes. See you on Monday!" He hangs up, and I contemplate the feather.

Laurel Hope 055-9194-314-1593

Call me when you get home?

I take several deep breaths. Then I dial, slowly, carefully. It rings once, then a voice I recognize from a dream announces, "Tower Central, connecting to world zero-five-five." Then strange twisting music—"Ahoy, ahoy. Laurel Hope, speaking."

"Hello, Laurel," I begin. "This is Alix Cohen, Crescent Moon acolyte of the Fifty-Second…"

END of Part One


A/N: I fully intend there to be a sequel to this. When it happens depends on when I have time and feel inspired to write about Alix again. In the meantime, please R&R the rest of my work!